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Understanding the Linux Kernel, 2nd Edition [School & Library Binding]

Daniel Plerre Bovet , Marco Cesati
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 78.20 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

January 2003 0613912020 978-0613912020 2

To thoroughly understand what makes Linux tick and why it's so efficient, you need to delve deep into the heart of the operating system--into the Linux kernel itself. The kernel is Linux--in the case of the Linux operating system, it's the only bit of software to which the term "Linux" applies. The kernel handles all the requests or completed I/O operations and determines which programs will share its processing time, and in what order. Responsible for the sophisticated memory management of the whole system, the Linux kernel is the force behind the legendary Linux efficiency.The new edition of Understanding the Linux Kernel takes you on a guided tour through the most significant data structures, many algorithms, and programming tricks used in the kernel. Probing beyond the superficial features, the authors offer valuable insights to people who want to know how things really work inside their machine. Relevant segments of code are dissected and discussed line by line. The book covers more than just the functioning of the code, it explains the theoretical underpinnings for why Linux does things the way it does.The new edition of the book has been updated to cover version 2.4 of the kernel, which is quite different from version 2.2: the virtual memory system is entirely new, support for multiprocessor systems is improved, and whole new classes of hardware devices have been added. The authors explore each new feature in detail. Other topics in the book include:

  • Memory management including file buffering, process swapping, and Direct memory Access (DMA)
  • The Virtual Filesystem and the Second Extended Filesystem
  • Process creation and scheduling
  • Signals, interrupts, and the essential interfaces to device drivers
  • Timing
  • Synchronization in the kernel
  • Interprocess Communication (IPC)
  • Program execution
Understanding the Linux Kernel, Second Edition will acquaint you with all the inner workings of Linux, but is more than just an academic exercise. You'll learn what conditions bring out Linux's best performance, and you'll see how it meets the challenge of providing good system response during process scheduling, file access, and memory management in a wide variety of environments. If knowledge is power, then this book will help you make the most of your Linux system.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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About the Author

received a degree in mathematics in 1992 and a Ph.D. in computer science (University of Rome, "La Sapienza") in 1995. He is now a research assistant in the computer science department of the School of Engineering (University of Rome, "Tor Vergata"). In the past, he served as system administrator and Unix programmer for the university (as a Ph.D. student) and for several institutions (as a consultant).

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
I am CS student and I had been confused by my OS textbooks with bunch of abstract block diagrams, pseudo codes, and implementation examples on different hardware platforms. I know OS handles interrupts, uses locks, manages process, do file-IO caches, but I want to have a clear picutre of how these really work together. I try to dig Linux kernel code by myself but only finds more questions and frustrations. This book helps me at this point. It describes x86 hardware (which unfortunately not well taught in my CS architecture class), illustrate data structures and code so I can trace code way much faster. It's a book to HELP you understand the Linux kernel (or a real working kernel than those obsolete/only_avaiable_in_super_computing_center ones in the old OS textbooks). If you are already a super OS programmer or C/asm hacker you don't need this book cause you may know things faster by reading the source. You can't use this book to learn the philosophies of OS design, nor can you understand the kernel detail without actual code trace. It may not be up-to-date for a weekly-refreshing software (which book can?), but once you learn the gory details, tracing the changes is piece of cake.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Dry, boring reading June 2 2003
By A Customer
This book, by admission of authors, follows bottom-up approach. Although I do not favor that approach, I would accept it if 'UP' was ever reached.
Reader is encouraged to look at the code while reading this book, however, very few references to the code is found, it's mostly talk, talk, talk, and you just lose it long before you're able to get a big picture.
I just couldn't believe how much space was wasted in the first part of the book explaining things that you ought to know before you even think about buying this book. I wish that space was used for more code/examples instead.
There is hardly any code in this book, and on the other hand it tried to chew so many subjects that are impossible to fit in this book and deserve (and have!) books on their own. I don't need a book on how CPU works, just show me a piece of code in Linux and try to explain it assuming some theoretical knowledge on the readers side that has to be assumed.
If you expect Stevens-like masterpiece from this book, you will be disappointed. If you already have Kernel knowledge, I guess it might be used as a reference. If you don't, it's close to useless.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I did like this more than the first edition Feb. 12 2003
I didn't like the first edition of this book, and I still don't like the current edition, though I admit I'm having a hard time understanding why.
I think that part of the problem is the deliberate "bottom-up" approach: this starts out in the first chapter dealing with memory addressing at the hardware level and goes on from there. I tend not to like bottom up explanations: give me the grand picture first and then drill down. But that can't be all of it: The Magic Garden Explained effectively starts there too, and I enjoyed that. Frankly, this approach probably is the best way to handle this subject matter in spite of my preferences.
Perhaps part of this is that I'm not playing by the rules. There is a strong implication in the preface that one should be looking at the source code while reading. One of the reviews at Amazon.com says the same thing. I didn't do that, and that may contribute to my vague dissatisfaction.
I certainly can't complain that this is incomplete or badly written. It covers everything that should be covered, and it is current as of the 2.4 kernels. The writing style is lucid, and I think that in general the writers have done a better than average job of explaining the why and wherefor in addition to the how.
I think maybe I've just lost my interest in this level of detail. There was a time when I found it fascinating in the most literal sense, but that was years ago. I just don't have any burning desire to understand kernel internals anymore.
You, of course, may still have that interest. If so, this would undoubtedly be a worthwhile addition to your library.
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4.0 out of 5 stars GOOD FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN 'KERNEL 2.4 VERSION' March 23 2003
Oh yes! This Second of Edition of "Understanding the Linux Kernel" featured a variety of new additions. The most significant being the inclusion of all those attributes, which distinguished the 2.4 kernel version from the 2.2 one.
This new edition also revised some of the staples of its predecessor, like: individual components of data structures, programming pathways, and interdependent algorithms. Its pattern is just as dynamic as that of the First Edition: with expanded elaborations on all those programming and performance tips.
In all, this is a good book to consider, if you are seeking Linux Kernel knowledge. But, if you already own the previous edition, and do not plan to adopt the Kernel 2.4 version, then there is no wisdom in spending on this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Grabs you, won't let you go ! Feb. 27 2003
My interest Ranges from admin to security to <big focus> drivers.
This book (or tome in many peoples eyes) is the utter definition of 'internals explained'. I sat with this book and Linux Device Drivers 2nd Edition (also from O'Reilly) and practically obsessed! It's generally very good for anyone who does /anything/ linux. You will learn how to communicate with the kernel, and get a great explanation of all kernel specific functions. Whether you talk to it, interprocess with it, whatever; this book will be a /major/ help for kernel related tasks, It was for me. As a bonus, in the back you can find all functions and headers by reference and alphabetic. In essence, i was very satisfied and glad i came upon this 'tome'.
Hope this helps
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